Collins' 'NO' Vote Likely Dooms Latest Republican Attempt to Repeal ACA

Collins’ 'NO' Vote Likely Dooms Latest Republican Attempt to Repeal ACA

Sen. Susan M. Collins (Maine-R) said Monday she will vote against the latest ACA repeal effort, dealing what appears to be a fatal blow to Republican leaders’ last-ditch attempt to rewrite the bill and sway holdouts. She pointed to the ‘draconian cuts to Medicaid insurance for the poor would weaken protections for sicker Americans’.

Ms. Collins, who also helped sink repeal efforts in July, joined Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona as “no” votes. She said she was dismayed by congressional scorekeepers’ analysis that millions fewer people would hold insurance under the Republican plan.

Republicans are racing towards a Saturday deadline to approve a repeal under fast-track budget rules. Unless they flip one of the opponents, they will fail to fulfill their pledge to kill President Obama’s signature law.

“Health care is a deeply personal, complex issue that affects every single one of us and one-sixth of the American economy. Sweeping reforms to our health care system and to Medicaid can’t be done well in a compressed time frame, especially when the actual bill is a moving target,” said Ms. Collins (Maine-R).

Under this third version of the plan, money used to subsidize ACA customers and expand Medicaid in parts of the country would be pooled together and then given back to the states as 'block grants'.

The bill’s sponsors, Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Bill Cassidy (LA), spent Monday rewriting the bill to direct more money to states like Maine and Alaska (trying to win over holdouts like Ms. Collins).

Yet Ms. Collins wasn't going for it - stating that this new plan still slashes Medicaid insurance for the poor, weaken protections for sicker Americans, and could lead to higher premiums or dilute coverage.

She referenced a preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) which showed that though the Graham-Cassidy plan would likely save $133B, it would also drive up the number of uninsured people into the millions.

Mr. Paul, meanwhile, opposes the very nature of the bill, claiming “Republicans didn’t promise to block-grant Obamacare. Republicans promised to repeal it." The Kentucky Senator is extreme displeased this plan retains so much of the ACA.

Democrats are calling on Republicans to resume bipartisan negotiations on stabilizing the ACA markets rather than settle for a flawed bill to satisfy the Republican base and donors.

A few specs on the newest revision:
• Adds $500M for states like Alaska that obtained Obamacare waivers to implement its own health care programs.
• States can apply to let insurers charge sicker people more than healthy people yet must provide a description of “how the state shall maintain access to adequate & affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”
>>This particular provision sparked quite a bit of tense debate between Sen. Cassidy and Senate Democrats during the Senate Finance Committee hearing, when Cassidy was grilled on how the this provision permits insurers to basically discriminate against people based on health status by charging them higher premiums. Mr. Cassidy denied that assessment, of course, and said the gov't would “pull dollars back” if states fail to provide adequate & affordable coverage for sicker Americans. Democrats said those terms were ill-defined.
• S&P Global Ratings indicated the bill would create “fiscal and operation burdens” on states and result in an estimated 580k lost jobs and $240B in lost economic activity while leaving growth of the GDP “stuck in low gear” at about 2% AT BEST in the coming decade.

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